Admissions Advice

June 14, 2023

In today’s episode (originally aired 6/12/23), we talk to Cody Campbell, who’s an Admission Counselor based in New England. He shares some tips and tricks about choosing the best college for you, making an investment in yourself and your future, and how to create an application and essay that stands out to an Admission Counselor like himself.

Listen to the episode here!

We started off The College Access Chronicles with this episode’s joke: How do you comfort an English teacher? Check out next week’s episode to find out the punchline!

Cody Campbell is an Admissions Counselor at a small New England college, and he joined us to discuss how his role can help students with their college application and entering their first year at a college or university.

Being a first generation student from a small Maine town, Cody’s own college admissions journey was mostly self-led. He had interests in both teaching and broadcast communications, and to learn what he truly wanted, he job-shadowed at both of those jobs to see what he liked more, and chose schools not too far from home to narrow down his college search. His number one choice, the University of Maine at Farmington, accepted him into their secondary education teaching program, and the rest is history.

Cody’s number one guiding principle in his college search was the Return on Investment. He says:

“You are investing in your future. A college education, while there is a large cost to it, is an investment in yourself. So whether that means it’s a high paying job after college, whether you’re going in a field with multiple marketable skills, or if you’re going into a field that’s in high demand right now, that’s a return on your investment. Saying, ‘I’m putting this investment in myself, and I am going to get something out of that.’”

But how did he get from a career in teaching to a college admissions office?

College has a lot more to offer than a degree, though that does take up a lot of your time. Cody had two jobs in college, one as a Resident Assistant (RA) and the other working as an Admissions Ambassador. “I started getting more into my program, and I still really liked education, but I realized that teaching wasn’t necessarily what I wanted to do,” he said. “But through my role in admissions, I understood that I still really liked working with high school students, just not really the teaching side of it. […] I really enjoyed helping students along the admissions process.”

But even though Cody chose a different path than the one he set out on, he assured us his teaching degree doesn’t go to waste. “I use my degree everyday because sometimes a degree is more than just ‘knowledge’. It’s also the skills you receive from that degree.”

Leaving his own college experience behind, Cody slid into advice for our listeners in the midst of their college searches. “Nine times out ten, an admissions counselor wants you to find your fit,” meaning that they want you to go to a college that’s best for you and your interests, which may not necessarily be the
college they’re promoting. To find your right “fit”, Cody suggests making a checklist with these topics:

  • What size of college are you looking for?
  • Do you want to be close to home or faraway, or somewhere in between?
  • What activities are you looking for – clubs, sports, volunteering, etc?
  • Do you want to live on- or off-campus? And what are the dorms like?
  • Does the college have what you want to major in, or can you go in undeclared?

The college that checks off all your boxes is probably your best fit.

Admissions counselors want you to ask them all and any questions to find your fit. Cody always wants to hear from you and figure out the best way to help you in your college journey, and he wishes students reached out more. But what should you ask? You may be thinking.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  • What opportunities are there outside of the classroom at the college? Are there internships, days to job shadow, community events?
  • Can you put me in contact with someone in the community to talk about the college environment?
  • Cost! But don’t let big numbers scare you away – financial aid is always available and will greatly reduce the cost of tuition.Finally, Cody shared some college application tips and talked about writing the dreaded college essay that will make an admissions counselor go, “Wow, okay,” in a good way. But it’s not any sort of juicy gossip or that time you bungee jumped off a cliff in the Andes (though that’s a super interesting topic) that admissions counselors are searching for.

“Make sure you’re representing your best self in your essay,” Cody suggested. “Write for you and write what you’re passionate about. [Admissions counselors] really want to get to know you.”

We closed the podcast with a speed round about Cody’s own journey to success. He’s a University of Maine at Farmington alum, and shoutout to Chompers, the beaver mascot! His favorite part of college was the people that he met, and his advice for those out there who may be a little intimidated by meeting new people, he said to not be afraid to put yourself out there and if you’re a little shy, ask your roommate or your RA if they wanted to attend an event with you to help you get out of your comfort zone.

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